Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Gratitude: Blessingway for Mary

Dear friends,

It's been a good weekend!  There is much I could write about a lot of things, but I'm just going to focus now on a Blessingway celebrated today for my daughter Mary, who is expecting her second son in just a couple of weeks.  A Blessingway is kind of like a baby shower, but the emphasis is on blessing the mother-to-be with encouraging words and actions.

Mary was presented with a flower wreath
to adorn her beautiful curly hair.
My daughter Joanna took this photo.Our hostess, Katie, has been friends with Mary since 1996.
They met through our home school group when they were nine 
and have been the best of friends ever since! 
Katie was the maid of honor in Mary's wedding in 2008,
and Mary was a bridesmaid in Katie's wedding a year later. 

Katie is also going to be the doula
(personal birth assistant to the mom) when the baby is born next month.
What a sweet, sweet friend!
I thank God for the life long friends that my girls have made.

I know this is a digression, but here they are in 1997
at some sort of home school event.
I love Mary's bonnet and her glasses.  Those were the days!
When they were in middle school,
I organized a mother-daughter club called Rubies and Roses
for the 4th-6th girls in our home school group.
Each month, the moms and girls met at a different home
to enjoy dessert, crafts, and a devotional time.
Later, the older girls branched off
into a different club called Jewels for Jesus.
Lots of sweet memories and my Wassail and
Pumpkin Streusel Muffins recipes came out of those years!  

Back to 2012 on Katie's kitchen calendar!

Since the theme of a Blessingway is to encourage the mom, each guest brought a special bead to make a necklace for Mary to wear at the birth as a tangible symbol of our prayer support.  

I had bought a ladybug bead 
since I think they are cheerful,
but I accidentally left my purse at home,
so I substituted the large plain red one
that was an extra in the bag of beads we brought.

My daughter Julia strung the beads together.

Katie clasped it around Mary's neck.
I love the serene look on Mary's face.

The finished necklace

My blessing to baby Isaac:
a series of Scriptures from Genesis
about the life of the Biblical Isaac
from the prophecies before his birth
to the blessings he gave to his son Jacob.

Look up at the heavens 
and count the stars.  
So shall your offspring be. 
Genesis 15:5

I will establish my covenant with him 
as an everlasting covenant 
for his descendants after him. 
Genesis 17:19

God has brought me laughter. 
Genesis 21:6

On the mountain of the Lord 
it will be provided.
Genesis 22:14

Praise be to the Lord 
who has not abandoned 
his kindness and faithfulness.
Genesis 24:27

The Lord answered his prayer.
Genesis 25:21

Now the Lord has given us room 
and we will flourish in the land.  
Genesis 26:22

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; 
I will bless you. 
Genesis 26:24

May God give you of heaven’s dew 
and of earth’s richness – 
an abundance…
Genesis 27:28

May God Almighty bless you
and make you fruitful.” 

Genesis 28:3

Words from Katie

Gifts, too!  Some in envelopes...

Baby shoes from my daughter Naomi

A laughing turtle from my daughter Melody

A lovely handmade card

A onesie with an applique neck tie!  So cute!

Much appreciated!

My photographer daughter Joanna with her camera


Heather and Babpsy (pronounced Bopsy)

Another long time friend Rachel 
applies henna to Mary's belly.
Each of us takes turns 

adding to the elaborate design.

My ladybug before it dries.
I had to get a ladybug 

in there somewhere!
The actual result of henna 

after it dries and flakes off
is more of a light orange.

Joanna and Katie work on 
henna designs at the same time.

My daughter Julia adds a henna design
to my daughter Lydia's hand.

Mary and I -- not the best picture, 
but it's what I've got!

As each guest left,
she received a scented candle
(mine is cranberry orange)
to light when Mary goes into labor
as a reminder to pray for her.

I hope you enjoyed my photo journal of the Blessingway today!  Do say a prayer for Mary in her last weeks of pregnancy!

Virginia Knowles

Friday, January 13, 2012

Books I'm Reading in 2012 -- A Small Start Anyway!

Dear friends,

Many of my friends and fellow bloggers have posted their 2012 intended reading lists.  Last year I posted a 2011 reading list but didn't read them all.  Maybe someday I should compile a list of the books I actually did read (all or in part) last year, but I've completely lost track of them.

I can't predict all of the books I'll read this year, since many of them come to me unexpected and I just enjoy them as they come. Nevertheless, here is the start of my reading list, though some of these books I am already reading and just need to finish them.

You can click on the book titles to see (or order) them at Christian Book Distributors or Amazon.


Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way 
by Shauna Niequist

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way  -     
        By: Shauna Niequist
My friend (and favorite author) Gary Thomas has recommended Niequists's book Cold Tangerines on FB many times, so I asked my husband to get it for me for Christmas. I loved the book and so did my daughter Joanna.  Right now, my daughter Julia is reading it.   I already mentioned it in this post on one of my other blogs: Friday Favorites: Recalibrating for the New Year. I found the sequel, Bittersweet, at my favorite used bookstore, Brightlight.  Any book with a picture of chocolate on it has to be good. It's got short essays about the Christian life based in stories from her own life.  I seriously don't know how people can write like that.  I am insanely jealous.  She is a bit more liberal than I am, I think, but still quite worth the read.

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God
by Dallas Willard

The Divine Conspiracy   -     
        By: Dallas Willard
Gary, who specializes in Christian contemplative classics, also told me to read something by Dallas Willard to recover some of my lost joy. The Divine Conspiracy looks like a good one, and I think I can get it from the public library.  It's a thick one, though, so I may have to renew it once or twice!  Hopefully, it will renew me, too.

Orthodoxy (free on Kindle)
by G.K. Chesterton 

Orthodoxy   -     
        By: G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton was a contemporary and friend of C.S. Lewis.  "Witty" and "profound" are the two words that come to mind when I think of the writing style of Orthodoxy.  You have to think about this book, which is a Christian classic.  I particularly appreciate his kind words about those of us who think more poetically than logistically.  Chesterton reminds us to break out of our airtight little circles of rigidly "rational" thinking and stretch our brains and our hearts to a larger life. I like that.

Breath for the Bones - Art, Imagination and Spirit: Reflections on Creativity and Faith  
by Luci Shaw

Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith  -     
        By: Luci Shaw
Another one on my "halfway through but need to finish up" list!  I've already blogged about it in these posts: Is My Head in the Clouds? and Ivory and Gray.  If I get really brave, I might take a breath and dip my bones into the book Studying Poetry by Stephen Matterson and Darryl Jones, both of Trinity College Dublin.  I don't know where I got it, but I think someone passed it along to me recently.

by Timothy Keller

Generous Justice: Finding Grace in God Through Practicing Justice  -     
        By: Timothy Keller
I already blogged about this one here: Just Beauty and Even More Weekend Gratitude.  It shouldn't take me long to finish!

Parenting & Education:

Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School
by David & Kelli Pritchard

Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School  -     
        By: David Pritchard, Kelli Pritchard, Dean Merrill
I've been home schooling my 10 kids for 20 years, but now I have two in public school: a junior who started in her sophomore year and more recently my third grader who started just before Thanksgiving.  Both are doing very well, and I'm confident we made the right decision. This book is a field guide for Christian parents who want their kids to thrive in public schools.  

Life Skills for Kids by Christine Field

Life Skills for Kids                                          -     
        By: Christine M. Field
This is one I need to plow into -- one of my weak areas as a mom and a home manager!  I bought it used at a home school curriculum sale last spring. I. Will. Read. This. Book. (Eventually.)

Grace Based Parenting
by Dr. Tim Kimmel

Grace-Based Parenting  -     
        By: Tim Kimmel
I've actually been writing a series of reflections about this book on, so I won't write more about it here.  Needless to say, I've already finished a good chunk of it!


The Help
by Kathryn Stockett 

My daughter Joanna took me to see the movie at the dollar theater a few weeks ago, and I enjoyed it so much that my daughter Mary gave the book to me. I have a strong interest in social justice, and the Civil Rights era is one that I have always covered in our home schooling.  I've read plenty of kids books on the topic, but this is the first grown-up one.  (Yes, I admit, I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird.  Maybe I should add that to my list, too.)  The book is written from the points of view of three women -two black maids and one white journalist - living in Jackson, Missisippi in 1963, which, by the way, is the year I was born.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Chronicles of Narnia  Commemorative Edition  -     
        By: C.S. Lewis
I'm reading this one with my kids.  It's been a while, and I don't think the younger ones have ever heard it even though they have watched the movie.  There are so many other books I want to read to my kids this year, but I can't even get started on that list right now!  I haven't been doing as many books with them lately since we are in the home school co-op, but for next year I am thinking of doing another "read through our shelves" year with world lit.  It's been tough getting motivated with home schooling this year. Am I up for that?  I'm actually thinking I could get some of my zest back that way.  Hmmm.  I guess that will be a matter for prayer and research!

So I know that's not everything I'll read this year, but I suppose it's a representative sample!

What are you reading?  Share it in the comments!

Virginia Knowles

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

27 Million Slaves Today

Dear friends,

There are 27 million slaves in the world today.  That number is completely mind boggling to me.  Try to imagine that many people in one place.  Try to wrap your mind around the unbelievable suffering they experience, so many of them with no hope in sight.  Try to imagine you are one of them. Just try.  It breaks your heart, doesn't it?  It should.  Mine isn't broken nearly enough.

Yes, there are slaves even here in the USA.  Right here in my hometown Orlando, due to the tourist industry, human trafficking (especially for the sex trade) is a serious problem.  

Human trafficking it also quite a hot button social justice issue among young evangelicals, and even middle aged ones like me.

January 13 was International Human Trafficking Awareness Day, as proclaimed by President Obama.  In honor of that, I posted links on Facebook all evening,  I thought I'd collect all of my links and combine them into one blog post. If you know of more links, please send them along!

College kids vow to end slavery CNN reports on the Passion student conference that raised over $3 million to fight human trafficking.  (They reported $2.6 million, but more has come in!)

International Justice Mission International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems - police, courts and laws - effectively protect the poor.  I have read the book Just Courage (subtitled God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian) by IJM's founder Gary Haugen and highly recommend it.

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls is the first of three hard-hitting, feature-length documentaries that expose the disturbing trends of modern sex slavery and offer hope for its abolition.

Rahab's Rope exists to give hope and opportunity to women and girls that have been forced into the commercial sex trade of India. By creating a safe and loving environment, they are enabled to grow and develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. Our work provides basic education and vocational training for each girl and woman who come through our centers; ultimately, allowing them to integrate into their communities in a positive and constructive manner.

Florida Abolitionist (FA) is a non governmental organization established to campaign against modern day slavery. FA is a sister organization of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking (FCAHT). This organization was created as a result of encouragement by Anna Rodriguez, the founder and president of FCAHT. FA’s approach is a focused strategy to educate, equip, and empower the faith community. Tomas J. Lares, the founder and president of FA is passionate about ending modern day slavery. As a child he was captivated by the life of Harriet Tubman. Lares believes that a 21st century abolitionist revival movement has begun. 

And, one that my cousin Elizabeth sent to me today after I posted on the blog...

Stop Traffick Fashion  provides opportunities and hope for survivors of human trafficking while offering unique clothing and accessories. Survivors who have been rescued from their captors make almost all of our accessories and receive income from STF sales. In addition, a portion of all sales revenue is donated back to our partner organizations that rescue victims and provide rehabilitation and training. 

Please note that I am providing these links for your information.  I am not endorsing everything about these organizations.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Foggy Morning!

Dear friends,

It was a foggy morning, but clearer by the time I took these pictures at 9 AM.  Before that, the driving visibility was horrible.  I heard sirens this morning before we left the house, and I'm imagining someone was in a traffic accident.

So I'm checking out the Blogger App on my iPod touch! I see that it's hard to add clickable links via the mobile app, so I had to edit this on a regular computer. Hmmm... Also no way to position the pictures or fiddle wth fonts or see existing labels. And typing on a tiny keyboard is not the most efficient way to add a blog post.  Oh well, it was a fun little experiment but I'm not sure I'll do that on my iPod again!

For those who are wondering, these pictures were taken at the end of the soccer field at Metro Life Church in Casselberry, Florida, where our home school co-op meets.

There are more fog pictures, as well as a bunch of links for moms, in a post from last year, Emerging from the Fogon one of my other blogs ( at 

Virginia Knowles

Friday, January 6, 2012

Leu Gardens Again!

Dear friends,

I wanted to go to Leu Gardens ( in Orlando earlier this week because they have free admission on the first Monday of each month.  My four youngest kids and I picked up lunch at Chick-fil-A using coupons for free food from their calendar.  At the gardens, we were joined by my husband Thad, along with my oldest daughter, my son-in-law and toddler grandson.

I don't have time to describe each of these pictures right here.  I also uploaded these and many more to Facebook with a public link here.

My daughter Mary, pregnant with her second baby boy

Leu House open for tours

Lucky Stripes

Striped bamboo

Pink camellia

My husband Thad

I have a thing for odd tree trunks...

Floss silk tree

Floss silk tree up close!

Tree trunk rotted out by sending down new roots from the rubble

Bride and Groom bronze sculpture by Peter Otfinoski

Bird of Paradise

I love the red glow of the leaves in the sunlight

I hope you enjoyed these photos!
(You don't need to be logged into Facebook to see this since it is a public link.)

You may also wish to see a previous post with even more photos from Leu Gardens: 

My other photographic post with beautiful botanical gardens is: Weekend Gratitude for Family in Maryland and Longwood Gardens

Virginia Knowles

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